Two-Point Conversion Pushes Carthage Past Gladewater, 29-28
CARTHAGE -- Cameron Callaway Jr. took the snap out of the wildcat formation, came around the end and picked up a gain that silenced the packed house at Carthage's Bulldog Stadium.
Having faced 4th-and-10 at its own 44-yard line inside 40 seconds left in the game, the Gladewater offense stayed on the field and Carthage's own offensive unit came sprinting on. So, the sticks came onto the field to settle the argument.
"Big Dawg," once the largest high school jumbotron in the world, showed the result before the referees signaled it. Short. By inches.
Carthage hung on to win Friday's big non-district game, 29-28, and extended its winning streak to three. Its season resume includes wins against Class 5A programs Lindale and Nacogdoches as well as a one-point overtime loss to Hallsville.
"We're proud to be where we're at," Bulldogs head coach Scott Surratt said. "We're 3-1 and think we're getting better. We're getting ready for district. We've been 5-0 and haven't won state. We've been 3-2 and won state."
Both teams scored four touchdowns in the game, but self-inflicted mistakes that defined Gladewater's past two games reared their heads again.
Most notably, after Carthage scored to set up a game-tying PAT and a 28-28 score, the Bears jumped offsides on the Bulldogs' kick attempt. Surratt accepted the penalty and then called backup running back Keaontay Ingram's number for an easy 1-yard, two-point conversion score with 11:03 left in the game.
Gladewater (1-3) committed 10 other penalties. Nine of those were minor infractions.
However, the team made progress in the fumble department. It had committed eight in the past two games and surrendered two to Carthage.
Unfortunately for the Bears, the Bulldogs capitalized on one of the fumbles lost for a touchdown.
Neither team got out of the game healthy.
Carthage quarterback Jarod Blissett was knocked out of the game midway through the second quarter and never returned. He was held out for precautionary reasons and remained on the sidelines alongside inactive starting running back Ravodney Hardy.
Receiver Hunter Townsend and backup quarterback Kason Davis replaced Blissett, depending on the circumstance. Davis specialized in 3rd-and-long plays. Ingram filled in for Hardy.
Gladewater receiver and defensive back Caleb Williams -- after scoring two touchdowns and setting up a third with an interception -- had to be taken away by ambulance early in the fourth quarter. The team was already without the services of starting fullback Justice Centers and key linebacker Austin Blanco.
Bears head coach John Berry was in a haste after the game to learn where the ambulance had taken Williams. Surratt was under the impression Williams sustained a head injury.
Williams got hit on a 4-yard reception, walked toward the Carthage sideline, got help from the Bulldogs' trainers and then laid down on his own power.
The ensuing delay was about 30 minutes.
"He must have hit his head on the turf because we didn't hit him very hard," Surratt said. "He's a great athlete, so we couldn't hit him very hard. He was moving and everything. I think he'll be fine. We just have to pray for him and hope everything works out."
Williams' catch had set up a 4th-and-13 situation from Gladewater's 21-yard line. It forced the Bears to punt in a 29-28 game with 9:35 left on the clock.
Carthage got the ball at its own 45-yard line and drove to Gladewater's 33. But linebacker Kendrick Harrison sacked Davis for a loss of 14 yards on third down to force a Bulldogs punt at the 5:05 mark.
Despite a false start penalty and a declined illegal substitution penalty between first and third down, the Bears (1-3) picked up a first down facing 4th-and-four on a 7-yard Marcello Jackson run.
Fullback Isaiah Davis got another first down the next play to put the ball at his own 44-yard line. But two more false start penalties on the ensuing set of downs pushed the team back to a 3rd-and-16 situation.
Jackson ran for six yards and then Callaway ran his fateful nine-and-a-half yards.
"That's a team that is going to rush for a lot of yards, probably 300 yards a game once they get it going," Surratt said. "For the most part, we controlled their run. No big plays in the run game and we've just got to cut back the big plays in the passing game."
Williams started the game with a bang for Gladewater. He picked off Blissett on the second play from scrimmage to set the Bears up at the Bulldogs' 36-yard line.
It took Gladewater nine plays and two false start penalties, but it broke scoring with a 5-yard Jackson run.
Carthage responded with a 14-yard touchdown throw from Blissett to Townsend.
The Bears fumbled on their next possession at their own 39-yard line. Blissett bulldozed into the end zone three plays later for a 14-7 score less than a minute into the second period.
Gladewater chewed most of the remaining quarter away with a 14-play, 70-yard drive. Guthrie found Williams in the end zone from 19 yards.
Carthage fumbled away its first play from scrimmage on its next drive. Guthrie had the Bears in the end zone a second time in a mere 16 seconds with a 30-yard throw to Callaway for a 21-14 lead.
Townsend, at quarterback, capped a nine-play, 75-yard drive with a 2-yard run to the outside for a 21-21 tie at the break.
Gladewater took its final lead on its own blocked field goal with 1:33 left in the third quarter. Bulldogs defensive end Jarod McLin swatted down Fernando Serrano's 32-yard attempt, but Williams found the loose ball behind the play and scrambled for a touchdown.
Kason Davis set up the winning two-point conversion with a 45-yard strike to Townsend. It was Townsend's third various scoring play.
"It's a big win," Townsend said. "Especially considering our quarterback went down. It just shows that we can fight."
Gladewater hosts Kilgore on Friday.
The Bulldogs will face the defending Class 4A Division II state champion, Gilmer, on Sept. 26 at Longview's Lobo Stadium.
"We had to have a man-down, man-up mentality," Surratt said. "We had to cut our playbook down probably 80 percent, but our defense played well. You knew they were going to play their best. Coach Berry is going to get his group ready. We were fortunate to win."
Carthage 29, Gladewater 28
At Bulldog Stadium, Carthage
Gladewater 7 14 7 0 -- 28
Carthage 7 14 0 8 -- 29
GLA--Marcello Jackson 5 run (Fernando Serrano kick), 5:19
CAR--Hunter Townsend 14 pass from Jarod Blissett (Rafael Hernandez kick), :51
CAR--Blissett 1 run (Hernandez kick), 11:17
GLA--Caleb Williams 19 pass from Blake Guthrie (Serrano kick), 4:56
GLA--Cameron Callaway Jr. 30 pass from Guthrie (Serrano kick), 4:40
CAR--Townsend 2 run (Hernandez kick), 1:45
GLA--Williams 18 run (Serrano kick), 1:33
CAR--Townsend 45 pass from Kason Davis (Keaontay Ingram run), 11:03
First Downs 13 13
Total Yards 249 278
Rushes-Yards 44-152 20-112
Passing Yards 96 166
Comp.-Att.-Int. 9-14-0 10-16-1
Punts-Avg. 2-40.5 1-34.0
Fumbles-Lost 4-2 1-1
Penalties-Yards 10-60 3-25
RUSHING--Gladewater, Marcello Jackson 20-66, Isaiah Davis 13-58, Darnell McKnight 5-22, Cameron Callaway Jr. 2-21, Caleb Williams 1-18, Blake Guthrie 3-(-32). Carthage, Hunter Townsend 10-72, Keaontay Ingram 7-29, Deairreus Hearn 6-19, Jakeldric Jackson 1-5, Jarod Blissett 1-1, Kason Davis 1-(-14).
PASSING--Gladewater, Guthrie 9-14-0--96. Carthage, Davis 2-4-0--83, Blissett 7-8-1--83, Townsend 0-4-0--0.
RECEIVING--Gladewater, Callaway 5-50, Williams 4-46. Carthage, Townsend 2-59, Marquise Guinn 4-57, Ingram 1-25, Terrence Lewis 1-17, Jakeldric Jackson 1-8.